U.S. Said to Decide on Lockheed F-16 Jets to Taiwan by October
Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been pressing the administration for a decision by blocking Senate confirmation of William Burns to become U.S. deputy secretary of state. Cornyn has agreed to allow the nomination to proceed in exchange for the commitment from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the Cornyn aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Taiwan’s request for F-16 C/D model jets has been pending since 2006 and upgrades of its older F-16 A/B models have been on hold. The jets are assembled at Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas plant.
China opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province, and has tried to block sales of the F-16 airplanes to the island. Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou has pressed the U.S. to speed up decision on the jets.
The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, a trade group, said the timing of the decision “suggests that the Obama administration has no intention” of approving the sale of new jets. The date is sandwiched between Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to China in August and Chinese President Hu’s expected trip to Hawaii, the group said.
“It doesn’t seem plausible that the Obama administration would stand up for Taiwan policy in the face of two such senior visits from China,” the group said in a news release.
The last significant U.S. arms sale to Taiwan was in October 2008 when President George W. Bush’s administration proposed a $6.46 billion package including Patriot anti-missile systems and Apache helicopters, to help the country bring its military up to date.
Clinton also committed to a delivering to Congress a report on Taiwan’s airpower requirements originally due March 1, 2010, according to the Cornyn aide.
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